NER Washington forum; Teacher Corps
Teacher Corps reaching children that don't know yet that they can be what they want to be in this world and if they only start working at it soon enough and hard enough they'll make it. The voice you just heard was that of the director of the teacher corps Richard Graham. Our guest this week on the NE our Washington form a weekly presentation concern with significant issues in the news m national educational radio public affairs director Bix Sussman. This program is coming to you from the southwest Washington headquarters of the teacher corps Richard Graham let's begin this way. An article about the teacher corps in the magazine American education began this way. For most of America's children the school room is a clean well-lighted place people with friends who share the excitement of learning and the stimulation of a well-trained professional teacher. For most children but not all more than one fifth of America's children go to schools there because of isolation and accessibility or because of ghetto bred violence and despair cannot attract cannot hold well-trained teachers
children at these schools arrive in a hand-me-down clothes undernourished unprepared apathetic often hostile. Mr. Graham tell us about this one fifth of America who are they. Where are they and what is the teacher corps doing for them. Well they're all around us now. We just have never looked very carefully in the past. But they're here in the schools in the heart of our big cities and they're in those little villages that we breezed by there on the superhighway but they're there. And any person looking at the school looking at them what they're getting out of the schools can say well these kids don't really have a fair chance in this society. There's been a change here of late. There's been a determination that you can't that they have a right to it that they should get it and that if you work hard enough at it you can do it. And that doesn't mean that you've got to spend more money than we can afford and some ways Of course you can afford not to do it. But it need not cost as much as it sometimes appears that it would. What's the history of the teacher corps whose idea was it. How is it how and when was it born.
Well the president really proposed the teacher corps before a convention of the NEA. There were several other people who participated in it Senator Nelson of Wisconsin Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts who were instrumental in the legislation comes from brightest brownness of in the army. But the idea really preceded the you know the teacher corps and the idea that you could do a better job of providing education in the schools that we're talking about. If you get someone who seeks out that job not who finds that he's been given it but someone who's prepared for someone who so wants this job but he makes up his mind that he's going to learn to do it well and find some satisfaction in Athens and stay for a reasonable period of time. How much does a teacher corps cost. Who pays for all of the federal government pays. A good bit of it. The local school systems now pay their share. They can pay as little as 10 percent but in most places around the United States they're paying more and it's a
problem which is developed by them by the local school system and by a local cooperating university and people from the state Office of Education. So they get together in the tarn determine what kind of program they want for their school system or who runs the teacher corps tell us a little bit about I mean I understand you run it but tell us about your background. Now I don't really run it that's the fact that I was the thing that causes some problem in the Congress because it wasn't it was hard to believe I guess that these programs would be run locally and that they could be better run locally. Our job of course is that is to help them do it to help get the people in help Powell get enough people who seek out a job so the local school systems can select from among that number the people that they want to work in their schools who joins the teacher corps. Right now a number of young people who were graduating from college who studied not education but have studied English or history or science or math but who think that they'd like to use what they learn by
helping to teach kids who need some help. That's what they are mostly but there are a number of women who've raised their families are now looking for a job a meaningful job difficult job. There are some people who are retiring early from the Army or Navy who want a new career. And it's a great way to start. Who pays you're the teacher corps. What do they allow there. They're paid by the local school system or was I say a good bit of the funds come from the teacher corps itself. Most of these people in terms of those they want to talk about so far are the ones who haven't really trained to be teachers yet they're paid $75 a week. That's it's really just about enough to live on after taxes are taken out state federal local. Some of the other. The doctrines but it's enough to get by. Not not like a king.
Their tuition is paid for their role in a university at the same time they're on the job. The end of the two years they come out you know you with a master's degree in teacher certification. So it's a Spartan living but it's a good thing for them. They're enrolled in a university at the same time their work same time they're on the job. And in addition there they also get a reference to this affiliation with the university the provide some supervision there is that they learn this job properly they're also in a team of five or six or seven of them together along with a team leader a team leader is an experienced person that's the other kind of person that if you go really to the Internet and this experience teacher team leader is generally selected by the local school system as somebody who really knows this business who's a good teacher and provide leadership so that in the school or someone to fall back on in this in this tough job all too frequently you know beginning teachers are just they're propelled out of a teacher's college and dumped down in in the toughest schools there are and it's not surprising that there's a horrendous
turnover of teachers in the first year particularly in the. And these inner city schools explain how this this works out as far as teaching and going to college at the same time does not present problems for a lot of people who presents a lot of problems and in that you have to make very excellent use of your time. This really was the teacher of course is also a pathway toward a master's degree that juror can someone join the teacher corps and not go to college at the same time. Not so far that because these people don't possess the qualifications for teacher certification at least they have practically none of them do. So they're in with this two year period that they're working. They're also learning to be a teacher let's say acquiring the credits another background that they need for certification according the standards of the state in which they're working. And then of course those teacher certification is generally exchangeable from one state to the next. Now you mentioned something about this and I want to clear this up as I understand the teacher corps gives priority to applicants without an education major and without training or experience that's going to be the other way
around. Well you might think so except that there's a growing feeling that you should have greater proficiency in your subject matter that if you're even in the elementary grades if you're going to be teaching English or or mathematics it might be well if you're the undergraduate major was in that field and that your teacher preparation might well come at the Master's level and kind of Masters of ours in the teacher problem which is that the teacher corps is. Also they teach courses to us as a small effort there are a lot of others that will help prepare certified teachers or experienced teachers for jobs in the top schools. This is just one way and so it works for another special audience. Right now your team leaders you spoke about a team leader what exactly does a team leader do. Well I had a team leader helps to see that that person who is working in that school in their first and second year makes it his. You know there are some there are the fatality rate of teachers in the first and second year perty I mean that literally
I mean fatality probably as teachers not not as individual human beings or at least these are still alive although perhaps some of them feel they are not completely so after a year or two of. We're going to a job in which you feel you've been a failure and too many of the teachers feel that they are failing their kids that they may be maintaining order but they're not getting across and the belief that somehow we should be able one of those of us who are in this field to get across to children early enough that they can't control their fate if they only wish to do so. And but if they fall some three grades behind and by the time they're in the eighth grade three grades below norms it's very tough for them then to control their their fate it's very tough and really to get out of high school or go on to college if later on they should decide they want to. Right now let's let's talk about a team leader team leader is required to have a master's degree or its equivalent whatever that means. What's an equivalent to a master's.
Oh if there is person person who is so clearly outstanding both as a teacher and a leader that the fact that they didn't have managed so far to get the mastery shouldn't stand in their way if this is a person the school principal knows would be the best for the job. But our team leader needs the MFA or its equivalent five years of teaching experience and I explained what would prompt someone with this comfortable background to give it up and going to the teacher corps. Well happily for a teacher corps and for education itself that there are just great numbers of people who are willing to give up soft cushy jobs to take on what appears to them to be the most difficult but also the most important so that there are plenty of people in United States. Experience teaches people who are in the schools who want to who are fighting this battle. I would say I think the best thing for me now is to share what I have learned with some other people on the way up how. That's what motivates most of my thinking. However others that know too that the next
job up the education ladder is probably to be an assistant principal or a principal and some places they see this as a means of learning something about supervision. And I know in a couple of cities but of this the city administration school systems themselves have chosen as team leaders people with their They've got an eye on. Principle material. So how does the Peace Corps and not the Peace Corps. My next question is about the Peace Corps. I want to draw parallels but how does the teacher corps How do you pick a city or pick a place how does it how does it happen. How do you decide on one area to move in. Well generally the city school system or the university picks itself that and that's why the program has been a success so far because there have been people who so select themselves. They know what problems they're facing. They know what they're doing in education now this year they've got a pretty good idea of what they want to be doing four or five years from now and they're looking around for ways to
get from where they are to where they want to be and they see this teacher corps as a means of doing this. So they come in and they appeal they appeal to their state Department of Education where they appeal directly does does make a difference because the program has to have approval in both places so they select. If there's not a lot of competing institutions school systems or universities for the program there are more of those now than the state has really got to help decide where its greatest priorities are and where the need is greatest. How did you get into that. Well just lucky I guess. My job before this one was with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and before that with the Peace Corps Let's talk about the year the in terms again of the people who join the Peace Corps or the teacher corps I reason I keep saying that is because the question is about the Peace Corps in the Peace Corps when someone is accepted. There's a fairly rigid training program we've heard about there's language training there's they learn about the history of the various areas they may go to and they get a physical
fitness program. Now what does the teacher corps do with this newly accepted applicants let's say for instance you have an inexperienced £90 sweet young thing from Peoria and you've got a son of a Harlem. What do you do. Of course we don't Senator. Harlem that Harlem has to decide the sweet young thang from Peoria is just what we want in Harlem and a lot of them do. They say that we we want to mix but also if this young lady from Peoria decides she wants to go to Harlem that would certainly influence the likelihood of her getting there because that's what they look for in the homes schools. Whether she wants it and whether her past history indicates that she's realistic and what she wants to do then I'm just putting square pegs in round holes where you try not to. There are some of the fallen To be sure. But when you ask how does this compare with the Peace Corps. We think if it compares almost exactly the systems are much much alike that the best indicators that
people found so far are on how well a person is likely to do is to see how it's done in the past. Let's say that he's had a job what his boss says about him or a succession of bosses so that like the Peace Corps you check to see what kind of a record is this person made. Then the other part of the selection process is in this period a pre-service training generally before they get on the job. There are university for some two or three months where they go through a program very much like the Peace Corps and there are people in the program with them. They're their peers judge them and their professors joins them in the school. People judge them and you can pick pretty well the person who's going to make it out. If you do a service to the person who's not going to make it to let him know I have time that you're just not cut out for the really tough job. You mentioned language too. When you say that in the Peace Corps they're trained in the ranks where it's almost shocking that it's well acknowledged that a person can't do a decent job as a teacher if he's going to go
abroad and he doesn't know the language of the people he's going to be working with or he's not interested enough in the culture to really study it and Europe and fountains of places here in the United States where we know those children come from families that speak Spanish or some other language. The teacher goes in there without any knowledge of that language or culture. And that seems to be accepted. But the teacher corps program since it can't do everything may be able to help in this regard. And there are people who are now determined those who are working with these programs in the southwest that at least with the teacher corps. That there will be teacher corps interns in these schools unless they have a demonstrated ability in the language of the kids they'll be working with and an interest and the knowledge of that culture. What about a situation in a in a in an urban area in a city we hear a lot these days about especially Negro children speaking what amounts to a second language it's a different dialect than standard English. How do you train someone to deal with this.
I don't I'm just beginning to learn how to train somebody to do this is only one fundamental and that is that probably that language that I was spoken is so ingrained that it is that you'll do the child a disservice to tell him that that's not a language and that you don't use it. But if you can help him know where in use that language and where you use the textbook or the or the other English and cherish them both and you're probably doing that that child a service now there's really isn't a great deal known but we really start from there. When you talk about changing a child's life giving a kid a chance to break the cycle tell us more about them. While there is that there are so many people that he runs into every day. As others people he sees in the neighborhood his parents perhaps but people who feel that the strikes are so much against him that they enter the fray to really do battle is silly and that you avoid
failure by not trying. Now if you can say in a believable way to market yourself that if you really work if you really mean to do this that you can live a system United States now as I say one who really wants to get through college early enough can do so. And unless you get through cards now it's good Skree very difficult to get the best jobs to really have complete control of your life. So that you've got to start early. This motivational development this feeling that you can make it is something that we have to learn something about the teach recorders part of the teacher corps job is supposed to be in the community you know expanding the walls of the classroom or bringing education beyond the school where all those phrases but no Reynoso that means we're not sure why a teacher should spend part of her or his week in the community and if so what do you do in the community. But there is a feeling now growing conviction that the thing that probably most characterizes kids who succeed at least in the in
school when I was where is that they feel that they can. They they have control over their fate. Now one of the things that influences most this idea on their part their self-concept of success is what their parents think of them. Other parents feel they can succeed whether parents feel that the school can help them succeed so that there are at least for that reason then there is a strong argument and a teacher being sufficiently involved with the parent or the evil influences that most directly. Cause this this child to believe that he can be a success. How does the teacher corps specifically trying to reach parents. Well again since there's a variety of problems that the that particular route may differ from one school system or one program in another but generally it's nothing more complicated than a home group. But the question is What are you and what do you what the methodology what the system involved
you know home that makes for a successful home visit. RE What are your objectives on that home isn't Frankie. And those things are just now being developed as a rule. The teachers are are so overloaded that the idea of making that home visit a part of their job unless it substitute for some other part of their job is just unlikely to be widely adopted in many school systems. I remember talking with a young negro student here in Washington who said that when he was a college student but he said when he was in high school In elementary school the teachers lived in the same neighborhood he used to see them in the in the supermarket and on the street. He said Now things have changed and the teachers run out jump in their Mustang at 3:30 or 4:00 o'clock and go off to the suburbs. So in other words the teacher of course trying to change this is trying to change it. And when you go to these national conferences and they talk about what's with the changes should be they almost always talk about the fact that the schools should be more
involved in the affairs of the community and the community more involved in the family affairs of the school. And there's that's just generally accepted. But why that's a good thing is not as well-known and why this fall I would say how how did that influence his education why did that hurt him or why is it hurting him with his teacher Jim jumps in the Mustang and goes home if he really is doing a job in that classroom and knows her business and is able to get it across to a person. Why should she be a better teacher if he doesn't jump in the Mustang. I we're all pretty sure that she would be a better teacher if you were partly in that neighborhood. But but we're not exactly sure why and how much time it should be and what the activity should really be in that community that would most help that fall get a better education when your time where does the teacher Corman live. All of the teachers corpsman lives at a place of his own choosing. Now they're encouraged. For this reason I say were a little hard pressed to give the exact reasons for it but they're
encouraged to live in the community. That's why we're also learning a little bit about how tough that is that we're learning for example that in the parts of Appalachian that they sue the school superintendent will probably get a telephone call from the trash man if they fire and empty beer cans in the in the trash which happened last week and then the school the school student who hears in the trash man and the school superintendent either cause the the internal or the person of the universe and said What are you going to do about it. I don't know what you do about it you know that in parts of the area some of the bigger cities that it's more dangerous to work you know and a teacher core than it is in most of the places in this world is where the Peace Corps goes and that there are muggings and that you have to learn how to walk on a street. Now that's without being alarmist. It's only fair to say to people who are coming in that you should examine yourself and your area and determine what you're up to. But somebody I think just as this fellow was saying when you're talking about
the teachers don't live here anymore. But for some of those kids it's going to move something for the teacher to live in that neighborhood and if they can do it they should. But there's no rule that you have to. We talked mainly about the teacher corps in big cities in urban areas but it works elsewhere doesn't it. Oh yes that there are teachers who are in the middle size cities that are in migrant communities in the Indian reservations in the places around these United States where education really isn't doing its job. You have to take a specific example it's an Indian reservation what would be the goal there would be to preserve the tribal patterns or make it possible for a young Indian to become assimilated. Yes it's much closer to the latter. That is you me now know that the dropout rate of people of Indians who leave the reservation to go to nearby schools at least in most parts of the country is just horrendous. It's somewhere 85 90 some percent drop out in high school.
So that the children who grow up on the reservation or have a difficult transition period it is the intention of the bureau schools that the local communities take on educational responsibility as best they can. But in many places the schools adjacent the reservation are not are the schools that are in most need of help. So that's where some of the teacher corps people are. But on my last visit to an Indian reservation I just impressed as I walk around with all the broken glass. I thought all that was around how you could. And I just I saw one young man after he finished his bottle of coke take that thing and smash it. How do Withers how symbolic that is but it just seems to me that the will and as you walk past people people with the eyes would be downcast there was really no pride out there I could see there. Now whether in this it may be drawing too much for a brief visit. But again if a person can find pride in himself that the teacher can
help him do that and that he should be doing a very important thing. So that again although it. A teacher has limited resources and can only do so much. But if they're interested in that language particularly in reserved areas where at least the adults still speak the Indian tongues that they will be able to to be of some help in the home and when with the children more so than if they're really not interested in that in that culture. There are some success stories. Is it possible to tell us some specific success stories for each of course. If it's hard to measure success because there are so many criteria one need say are do the school principal say that the teacher the world that we see developing through this process is the kind of teacher we want in our schools. Yes they say so they say that the right kind of person seems to be attracted. They seem to be learning on the job. And this is what we want. Well that's perhaps one one criteria success. The other is. What effect is this program having on the
universities are they going. If this is a good way to prepare people for the schools will they begin to train others besides teacher corps people. And they are the universities that have taken on this problem say what we've done here the teacher corps were applying to other programs of education you could say to the school systems that have never had anything but one teacher per classroom for 30 or 35 or whatever number of kids or do they find that so that a team effort two or three people are working together and sharing the load and doing what he can do best is that a good thing. Will that be adopted by the schools and yes again and again we hear that will say that that what we're doing now with this program is something we're going to want to continue to do. We're going to find the money somewhere going to we don't have to rely on federal government or the teacher corps to continue the toughest thing is can you measure with the children greater achievement because that program has been there and we think in some places you can if you have to find places where the teacher corps person is having major effect than the major influence upon the children. And that isn't
always the case in most places the teacher corps is an adjunct assistant. But yes I think on any one of those bases we would love to to have an evaluation a more complete one than we've had so far. OK on the face of it now from all you've said Mr. Graham. It seems that to be against the teacher corps in Canada being against mom in the flag but I imagine there are some people who are against that there have to be. What are some of the criticisms you hear about the teacher corps and how do you answer it. You know we don't really hear criticisms now. We heard a lot of fears before and they generally ran in this way that one of these people who are supported by the federal government in some way think of themselves as something special. Well they appear disruptive influence or they create jealousies within the school. No they have because they they come in to do their job they know that in order to do this job they have to get along they have to help. They have to be accepted by school principals and other teachers and children and community and they're doing it. But that really didn't pan
out. They first of all I thought what the should they be paid as much as they are for for not doing the full job as a as a teacher and getting their education the boot. Well they really get paid just enough to survive. We can't get along on much less than this in most cities of of the United States. They worried about would this be a federal problem with Ruby direction or domination from watching them work this way. You can't you can't do the problems have to be run locally or there are not any good they have to be a program that somebody wants in that school system at that and that university and there's somebody there locally run it so that the things that they feared Rita didn't didn't. Come to be time for one last question. In the event that some of our listeners are interested in learning more about the teacher corps that is to join perhaps what should they do about getting more information or they can write your state school officers you have information even if there isn't a program there already a local school system or write to us here that the teacher corps and Washington DC and will send you
information and tell you where their programs that are looking for you for the qualification the experience that you possess. What's the address of the teacher. Course just teach a course in our Washington D.C. And what if someone wanted someone listening one of the teacher corps to come to their school system what would they do that same thing. They'd drink it right does that if if you were a freshman in the school system you're interested in the problem you can write to us write your state school officer too or we will we'll see. Together you and we the est people are a party to the development of a problem. You've been listening to a discussion of the teacher corps. What it is why it is and what it does in America. Our guest has been the director of the teacher corps Richard Graham. This program was produced by the national educational radio network through the facilities of W.A. MUFON American University Radio in Washington D.C. I'm Any our public affairs director Vic Sussman inviting you to listen again next week for
- NER Washington forum
- Teacher Corps
- Producing Organization
- WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- Richard Graham, director, National Teacher Corps, on educating poverty-stricken children.
- Other Description
- Discussion series featuring a prominent figure affecting federal government policy.
- Public Affairs
- Media type
Host: Sussman, Vic S.
Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Speaker: Graham, Richard
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-24-46 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “NER Washington forum; Teacher Corps.” 1968-02-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 27, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-ws8hk65r>.
- APA: NER Washington forum; Teacher Corps. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-ws8hk65r